Renovating for Resale the PHG Way


In case you were wondering, yes, it’s incredibly fun and rewarding to renovate a house.  Check out 1608 E. Berks St for example.

These photos were taken before the renovation began:

When we found it, by the grace of all things lucky and exciting, it was mortgage-able. It was in the same family for 60 some odd years.  They didn’t do any work to it other than adding a bathroom and laundry to the first floor when they became too elderly to use the stairs.

The house was originally a 3-story brick structure with spiral stairs and probably no more than 16’ deep.  Later in life, the house got a 2-story addition which had its own spiral stair case and a bathroom.  Even after that it got a 1-story addition on the back. What we started with was a 3 story house, but the third floor was one large room, no closets, and no bathroom.  The first and second floor addition were a step higher than the original structure.  The biggest challenge in redesigning this home was disassembling the rear staircase and straightening out the original spiral staircase.

We couldn't be happier with the finished product: 

The best solution was to treat the front room with the highest ceiling as a great room with cable jacks, that way the end use could use it as their living room, dining room, formal sitting room, library, etc. From there take one step up in to the newly blown out open floor plan kitchen and living room (or dining room depending on how you use it) complete with breakfast bar and contrasting cabinetry and stone counters.

The last addition, the single-story part was converted into the laundry room and powder room.

After the staircase to the 2nd floor was straightened out, there was still a step down from the original structure to the new addition. Who knows how they decided to put this addition on back in the day, but on the first floor you step up, on the 2nd floor you step down.  Back then were architects even invented yet? Because the step landed between the front bedroom and the hall bathroom, we added a nifty light in the stair riser. It senses when it’s dark so it’s always on at night.

Once the house was fully gutted, we uncovered a lot of original details including transom windows over the doorways to the hall and a vaulted ceiling in what we turned into the master bedroom.  We added a lot of closets and storage while we were at it.

The third floor bedroom was still serviced by a spiral stair case. These are very common in Philadelphia, especially homes that didn’t go back very deep when they were first built. If you’ve never seen one, the stairs are shaped like slices of pizza and arranged like a fanned deck of cards.  Every home buyer who experiences a trinity staircase says the same thing, “I can’t have a few cocktails before I use these.”  To counteract that objective, we added a bathroom to the third floor bedroom.  The room was the entire size of the original foot print of the house, so even after adding a bathroom and closets, it was still nice and big. It ended up being my favorite room in the house.

Enjoy the before and after photos folks, and if you want to become a successful property renovator, contact the Philly Home Girls. We’ll get you into a deal and out with a profit.